Thursday, September 10, 2009

AFC South: A Look Ahead

Earlier, I took a look at the AFC North, and made some baseless predictions on how it would shake out. Now, I'm going to wildly speculate on the possibilities in the surprisingly deep and competitive AFC South.

Colts 12-4
Indy faces a surprisingly tough schedule for a second place team, but it's almost automatic to give them 12 wins. They'll face some real tests within their division, but I really believe in this team. Despite all the off-season shake-ups, Peyton Manning is a true leader who elevates the team around them. That defense will betray him in a couple of big games, though, notably in week 10 against New England.

Titans 10-6
Tennessee is a very talented team that I see being unable to overcome their few, though glaring, deficiencies. The quarterback situation there has to make you nervous, unless Vince Young returns to rookie form. Kerry Collins is not a championship caliber quarterback. And their receiving core, while it has a lot of potential, could wind up limiting their offensive production this year. As usual, the defense will keep this team in games, and pull out some hard-fought wins against some very good teams.

Texans 9-7
While I'm not ready to jump on the "Houston is going to the playoffs!" bandwagon just yet, I am ready to believe this team is built for its first ever winning season. However, Matt Schaub is going to miss games, which means Rex (Wrecks) Grossman will be their starting QB at some point in the year. That's bad news. Nonetheless, this is an offense with the talent to explode against anyone, and the defense should be much improved. This franchise is on its way up, and could be a playoff team in a more forgiving division.

Jaguars 6-10
I like Jacksonville, I really do. But looking at their schedule, I just can't pick out more than 5-7 wins for them. The defense has lost its bite in the last few years, and aside from Maurice Jones-Drew, the offense just doesn't wow me. That being said, this is a team that's one really good draft class and a developmental year away from being more than relevant, but a top-tier team.

I imagine there are dissenting opinions. I'm prepared to eat my share of crow at season's end.


Opening Day Forecast

Since, as of 15 minutes ago, we are officially at Opening Day of the 2009 NFL season!

In honor of that, I will begin my predictions for the season with the division of the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers. I'll be doing these all the way to Sunday, and hopefully even finish them in time.


Steelers 13-3
The reigning champs mount a mighty title defense on the back of a surprisingly weak schedule. They see the Browns twice, while also tussling with the Raiders, Lions, Broncos, and Chiefs, so that's an automatic 6. I see 7 other very winnable games on that schedule, and the Steelers roll comfortably into the playoffs.

Ravens 10-6
Baltimore puts a strong team on the field, but faces a slightly more daunting schedule, as they play the Patriots in Foxboro. The Ravens' secondary, aside from Ed Reed, makes me a little nervous, so they may struggle against top notch passing teams like Green Bay, Indy, New England, and even (dare I say it) the Bengals.

Bengals 7-9
Cincinnati really has improved, and a healthy Carson Palmer is their biggest offseason acquisition. However, they have the misfortune of playing in a tough, top-heavy division, as well as squaring off against 3 good teams in the NFC North, and I just don't think Cincy is ready for that level of competition yet. Week 6 vs. Houston should have a ton of fireworks, though.

Browns 3-13
Sorry, Cleveland. Eric Mangini was fired for a reason. The only redeeming part of 2009 for the Browns is that they play the only teams as bad or worse than they are: Denver, Oakland, Detroit, and Buffalo. Amazingly, they won't win all 4 of those, and I say the Lions redeem themselves against this sorry outfit.

Tune in later today for the AFC South (in honor of tonight's Titans), and maybe one more division, if I have it in me.

Of course, disagree violently in the Comments.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009


As part of the kickoff of this blog, I present to you the first, flagship prediction/pre-analysis/forecast of the 2009 NFL Season. Tonight, we'll examine Thursday night's season opener:

Steelers vs. Titans.

Over/Under: 34 1/2
Line: Steelers by 6 1/2

My thoughts:
Take the under on this one. Frankly, I have a hard time seeing these two defensive-oriented teams putting up 35 points together. I have questions about the Steelers offensive line going against that Titans defense, even without Haynesworth. Granted, Tennessee sports a new defensive coordinator, and there is some age in the front seven, but they're still too good to give up a ton of points. Let's not forget that Pittsburgh isn't exactly an offensive powerhouse. I like their receivers, but again, the o-line scares me. As for Tennessee, they have the potential to be a pretty good offensive team, but not against the Steelers D. Their running game is excellent, but it just so happens that Pittsburgh's run defense is just as good. As a Giants fan, I simply can't believe in Kerry Collins as a big-time quarterback, and they have some questions at receiver.

Expect this game to be a physical battle, and the winner will climb out of the wreckage of a hard-fought defensive beat-down. These are two of the more physical teams in the league, and the more physical team wins this one.

I'd take the Titans for the points, but not the win.
Steelers 17
Titans 14

Fantasy Impact:
If you're watching this game as a fantasy owner, I hope you have one of these defenses. Don't expect a ton of production from offensive players.
Winners: Either defense, but Pittsburgh is probably a safe bet; look for an INT and FF.
Losers: Kerry Collins - He's not going to be a fantasy stud, especially not against a ferocious pass rush and quality secondary.
Sleepers: Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh. Tennessee's secondary should be able to limit big plays from the Steelers' receivers, so keep an eye on Miller matching up on linebackers and safeties, and as big target in the red zone. Points in this game will be hard to come by, and this could be the guy to get them.


Observations from college season week 1

I am but a man, and simply don't have the hours or willpower to watch every college game the cable box throws at me. However, I was able to catch a few good bits this weekend, and I found myself taking a few notes. I'm a huge NFL draft addict, as you'll learn, so here are the players that jumped out at me, what I think about them at the next level, and so on:


Perrish Cox is a name to watch when the Combine comes around. Cornerback #16 on Oklahoma State - 6'0", 195. Great size, sneaky fast. He plays a physical style, good at press coverage, and is very good with the ball. Also a very impressive kick returner. If he keeps up this level of play, could find himself as a fairly high draft pick (Round 1-3? Need to see more).

Bryan Evans, FS #3 on Georgia - Reminds me a bit of Bob Sanders. Somewhat small (5'11", 190), but flies around like a torpedo and hits like a sack o' bricks. He needs to be more of an impact player, and a few INTs will help his stock a whole lot, but could be a real find in the late rounds of the draft.

Georgia's o-line was above average in pass protection, but the running game was extremely underwhelming. These guys have some bulking up to do.

Georgia SLB Darryl Gamble should probably declare for the draft as a Junior. He's got pro size (6'2", 250) and was involved in seemingly every tackle. Rennie Curran is the guy getting the hype, but I found Gamble to be even more impressive. 100+ tackles and a good Combine could rocket this kid's stock, if he comes out this year.

Zac Robinson, the much-hyped OkState QB did not look deserving of the hype. His decision-making and accuracy left a bit to be desired, he threw too much off his back foot, and made some lousy reads on his option-runs. WalterFootball has this kid going in Round 2, but I have my doubts. If he doesn't pull it together as the season progresses, he could get Graham Harrelled, and find himself as yet another spread QB playing in Canada.

And where was Dez Bryant the whole game? He had a pair of touchdowns, which softens my review of him quite a bit, but in a big game, he didn't really come up big. He had some trouble getting open against Georgia's man coverage, but absolutely killed them in zone (especially cover-2 against safeties). For a guy who should be the first receiver taken in April, he needs to really bring it against good teams like Georgia.

Georgia kicker Blair Walsh has a big leg, and if he can put more air under his kicks, could be really good.

Irish faithful may consider it almost heresy, but Jimmy Clausen will be a better QB than Brady Quinn was. Granted, he was throwing against sub-par DBs, but he put up spread-type numbers, and looked extremely sharp. Good decision-making, excellent accuracy, and a big-enough-but-not-super-strong arm impressed the heck out of me. Maybe Charlie Weiss isn't a waste of life after all!

WR Golden Tate, of ND, is purported to be the Irish's big-time receiver with major NFL prospects, but #3 Michael Floyd stole the show. Tate is a quality receiver, and a ferocious blocker, but Floyd is a big play machine. He has the size and speed to be a real threat, and Clausen's best friend. He's only a sophomore, but if he keeps this up, ND won't be able to hold onto him until his senior year.

More observations to come, as I have a date with the DVR to catch up on the other games. Thank God it's football season at last!


First Post!

First, I'd welcome all visitors to this little diversion/reason to slack off at or outside of work.

Second, let me introduce myself. I'm the Big Freeze, and I'm a fan of, you guessed it, football. Here on the site, I'll be sharing observations, analysis, and other thoughts about the game, both professional and college. This is not my job, I don't get paid to do this, so please no complaining if I'm not exactly timely in my postings all the time.

I will readily admit that, as the page colors may suggest, I'm a New York Giants fan, and will absolutely be a complete, shameless homer all the time. I apologize in advance. However, my posts won't all be Giants related, so I encourage you to check in for thoughts on other teams as well.

Again, thanks for coming, and I hope everyone out there is as ready for the NFL season as I am!